How to Center Excel Headings without the Headache of Merged Cells

How to Center Excel Headings without the Headache of Merged Cells

By Marie McCooey

Merged cells in Excel worksheets can cause all kinds of problems when selecting columns, filtering, using PivotTables, etc.

Do you struggle with merged cells in your Excel worksheets?

If so, this post is for you.

When you need to center a report heading, it’s so tempting to select the cells and click the Merge & Center button directly above in the Alignment group of the Ribbon.

Merge and Center button

And this does result in the report title centered across the columns.

However, if you attempt to sort your data after applying Merge & Center alignment to the report title, the following message displays to remind you the report title is not just centered but merged and you will not be able to sort the merged data.

Merge Cell Sort Error

A Better Alternative to Centering an Excel Heading Across Multiple Columns

  1. First, type your heading in the left column of the row you want to center.Report Title
  2. Select the range of cells where the header should be centered across.
    Center Across Selection
  3. Press the Alignment drop-down arrow or press CTRL + 1 to open the Format Cells dialog box.
    The Format Cells Alignment tab displays.
  4. Click the Horizontal drop-down arrow, select the Center Across Selection option and click OK.
    ormat Cells Center Across Selection

    The Report title in the leftmost cell is centered across the selected columns.Center Across SelectionYou can now select each cell individually and sort the data without the aggravation of merged cells.


  • For the Center Across Selection alignment to work, you can only enter data in the leftmost cell in the row.
  • To edit or format the report title, click in the leftmost cell of the row.

The next time you need to Center an Excel Report heading, remember Excel’s hidden Center Across Selection feature!